The symbolic Newcastle United stadium move which hints at new direction

It was a symbolic move. The Alan Shearer statue was placed proudly next to St James’s Park after six years in the shadows.

It was moved to a new plinth next to the iconic St Bobby Robson statue at the busy south west corner of St James’s Park.

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And whenever Darren Eales walks in or out of the stadium, there are invariably supporters and visitors having their photographs taken next to the two statues.

The statue move, which took place in May, was welcomed back supporters who had felt disconnected from their club during Ashley’s 14-year tenure as owner.

Eales, United’s chief executive officer, wants the third-placed club to “reconnect” with fans – and he’s open to ideas.

Asked about the decision to move the Shearer statue on to club land, Eales said: "Not to talk specifics, but hats off to the ownership with what they did when they came in. From my perspective, as we think for the future, it’s about fan engagement.

"We had a meeting in November with supporters groups, but it’s about opening that dialogue – and being open to ideas. Anything that excites and galvanises our fanbase, I'm well up for.

The Alan Shearer statue on its new plinth outside St James's Park.

"For me, it’s about how can we be proactive to things that bring the connection back. With the Alan Shearer and Sir Bobby statues, it doesn't matter what time of day, people are out taking photos.

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"And that's not just on a match day, it’s fans that have come to visit Newcastle. Newcastle fans may not have seen a game in years, but they want to have their picture with Alan's statue or Sir Bobby Robson.

"So it’s thinking about those and how we can gain more touch points and more connections between supporters. Any good ideas, I'm up for."

Meanwhile, Eales revealed last month that the club’s new owners are looking at ways to expand the 52,000-capacity stadium, which has been sold out since last year’s change in ownership.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Newcastle United co-owners Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Amanda Staveley with chief executive officer Darren Eales.
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“It’s one of the areas we’re looking at,” said Eales, who joined the club from Atlanta United in the summer.

“It’s a champagne problem, because we’re sold out – and it’s not a situation like the past where you’re almost giving away season tickets to fill the stadium."